The two American rating agencies announced plans to establish operations in the country. The announcement comes amidst rising corporate defaults in China, revealing a growing need for reliable credit ratings.
A key reason for local rating agencies’ high ratings is that they place more weight than foreign agencies on implicit government support for state-owned enterprises, who are the biggest corporate issuers in China. Such backing is not written into law, but local investors widely assume that the government will bail out SOEs to prevent bond defaults. “The hidden assumption behind the new commitment by China would be that these foreign agencies would be less influenced by local, political narratives,” said Luke Drago Spajic, head of emerging Asia portfolio management at Pimco in Singapore. “The ultimate test will come when the local and foreign agencies end up having vastly divergent views on credits — and we end up seeing who called it right.”